Stands, Racks, Furniture, Room Treatment

The Synergistic Research ACOUSTIC ART Real-Time Analogue Room Treatment

ARTICLE INDEX

ACOUSTIC ART SYSTEM


Introduction

Vibratron, Gravitron, Magnetron, and Bass Station: the sci-fi names alone are enough to raise eyebrows. But when you add in the fantastic appearance of the resonating bowls, and the claims that they can tune your listening room and ameliorate most commonly encountered speaker-room interactions, it’s hard not to think that someone is either toying with you or daring you to entertain a new paradigm of acoustic science.

A Description:

Specially tuned and treated carbon steel bowls that, carefully placed in the listening room on proprietary platforms, tune music reproduction, tighten bass, adjust tonal balance, and focus sound.

Complete System (Vibratron, Bass Station, Gravitron, and two Magnetrons): $3130
Entry Level System (Gravitron + Bass Station): $1045
Synergistic Research

At the center of the Synergistic Research ACOUSTIC ART Real-Time Analogue Room Treatment – now there’s a mouthful – perches the Vibratron, a fantastically shaped blue orb that looks like a cross between the planet Saturn and a gyroscope. Complete with a set of little removable silver and gold magnets that form a spire at its apex, the Vibratron is designed to sit atop a special wooden perch that hangs from the front wall midway between and above your speakers.

Then there’s the Gravitron, a blue and purple tinted forged metal bowl that balances atop a little wooden perch. The Gravitron and its perch are designed to affix to the rear wall, close to the ceiling, directly opposite the Vibratron. On the floor below the Vibratron and (in larger rooms) the Gravitron sit one or two Bass Stations, slightly larger iron bowls that have their own spiked wooden stands that include a special “dispersion baffle.” Two other bowls called Magnetrons magnetically affix to wooden perches placed on the side walls at first reflection points.

Besides looking good enough to be on display at a Museum of Modern Art, Synergistic Research’s website claims that the ACOUSTIC ART system (heretofore referred to as “ART”) can “tune music with a system of resonators working together in harmony at key acoustic pressure points.” The magnets in the system purportedly “contour activation and decay properties of the Vibratron and Magnetron Satellite resonators.” The Vibratron is claimed to radiate “in a 360 degree pattern over a scientifically-arrived-at frequency range.” The Base Station’s dispersion baffle – a plain wooden shield that arises between it and the rest of the room – “precisely” controls how the Bass Station affects a room’s low frequency acoustics. The spikes on the Bass Station, fashionably called Stilettos, are said to mechanically couple the Bass Station to the room and further enhance control of low frequencies. Throw in the Gravitron, and you’ve got a system that operates at “mathematically-arrived-at frequencies with target decay patterns” to tune music reproduction from your audiophile or everyday sound system.

Really?

That’s the question I asked at CES 2009 in Las Vegas in January when I made the Synergistic Research room at the High Performance Audio exhibits at the Venetian Hotel my first stop. There I encountered chief designer Ted Denney, the creator of ART. The equipment in the room had not yet warmed up, the cables were not settled in, and the positioning of the ART system was hardly fine-tuned. Yet, as Ted proceeded to play music with the ART system in place, then without it, then again with ART, it was easy to hear that the system sounded considerably more focused and under control with ART.

Over the next few days of CES, John Atkinson, long-time editor of Stereophile, joined the ranks of reviewers and journalists who visited the Synergistic Research room. While John’s background as a recording engineer led him to approach the ART system with skepticism, he is also a musician with a fine ear for changes in sound. After experiencing Ted Denney’s demo, he too was convinced that the treatment made a difference.

LISTENING ROOM